(01/16/14) In a decision [PDF] issued Jan. 10, Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled that Clerk Craft PSEs should not be included in the Clerk Craft complement for the purpose of determining whether Lead Clerk positions must be created in a facility.
The Postal Service initiated this dispute, arguing that the phrase “clerk craft complement” is limited to the “career craft complement” and that the ratios outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement do not specifically mention PSEs.
The APWU argued that the plain language of the contract does not limit the complement to career clerks. The union also demonstrated that the Postal Service commonly issues various “complement reports” that include PSEs.
The APWU contended that the Postal Service bore the burden of proof in this case because it initiated the dispute. Arbitrator Das disagreed, stating, “It is difficult to see any meaningful way in which the initiating party has a greater burden in this respect.”
In his ruling, Arbitrator Das reasoned that the bargaining history showed that the meaning of the term “clerk craft component” was never discussed and that if the intent was for the PSEs to be included in applying the Lead Clerk ratio in the Clerk Craft Jobs MOU, it would have been specifically designated.
Although Arbitrator Das said the union’s argument “has some appeal,” he added, “While a close question, on balance I conclude that the Postal Service’s position on the interpretive issue in this case is more persuasive than that of the Union.”